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Sweet potatoes are a starchy vegetable that you can enjoy in your meal all year long. You can get the potatoes in various sizes and colors, including orange, white, and purple. Packed with nutrients, sweet potatoes can be an easy and excellent inclusion in your diet. It is a versatile ingredient that can be used as a perfect companion to your main dish, tasty addition to your stews and soups, and lastly, a sweet end to your meal in the form of a pie. Sweet potato health benefits and nutritional values have made it one of the most favorite vegetable choices among health-conscious people.
Sweet Potato Nutritional Value & Facts
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A and C as a single medium-sized sweet potato has the capability of providing you 400% of the vitamin A your health requires each day. Talking about sweet potato nutrition facts, the most essential nutrients include vitamin B, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, thiamin, zinc, etc. The vegetable contains carotenoid that provides it with the rich color it has.
A medium-sized sweet potato generally contains:
- Carbohydrates: 26 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fat: 0.07 grams
- Fiber: 3.9 grams
- Calories: 112
Sweet Potato Health Benefits
With all the nutritional components it contains, sweet potato is considered a very healthy food choice. Here we have enlisted 10 health benefits of sweet potatoes.
1. Better Digestion and Gut Health
Sweet potatoes contain both soluble and insoluble fiber to maintain a healthy digestive system. Some soluble and insoluble fibers create short-chain fatty acids that fuel the cells of your intestinal lining and prevent them from getting damaged. It also helps promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria named Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species that lower the risk of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diarrhea.
2. Sweet Potato Protects Vision
Being incredibly rich in beta-carotene, sweet potatoes produce vitamin A inside the human body. Beta-carotene is the antioxidant responsible for the vegetable’s bright color, and it reduces vitamin A deficiency in your body. It helps form light-detecting receptors inside your eyes and prevents a particular type of blindness known as xerophthalmia. The nutrition in sweet potatoes also protects the eye cells from damage.
3. Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Sweet potato is a vegetable with a low Glycemic Index, which is a significant concern for diabetes patients. It means that sweet potatoes release sugar into the bloodstream slowly if compared to other starchy foods. By releasing the sugar steadily into the bloodstream, sweet potatoes aid in controlling blood sugar levels. Generally, the white-skinned sweet potato improves insulin sensitivity in people with mainly type 2 diabetes. Besides, the high amount of fiber also lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
4. Healthy Blood Pressure Level
Rich in magnesium and potassium, sweet potatoes have shown notable results in maintaining the blood pressure level. As a potassium-rich food, a medium-sized sweet potato covers 5% of potassium’s daily requirements required for an adult. The higher intake of potassium and magnesium decreases blood pressure and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. By controlling the blood pressure, sweet potato significantly reduces the risk of a stroke or a coronary problem. On the other hand, magnesium is quite helpful in preventing hypertension.
5. Protects Against Inflammation
Along with beta-carotene, sweet potato has a significant amount of vitamins to take care of your overall health. Most of these vitamins have powerful anti-inflammatory properties that help repair cell damage and protect the cells from harmful free radicals. Especially the purple sweet potato has the capability of inhibiting the production of inflammatory components in the body. Besides, sweet potatoes have a high concentration of choline that reduces inflammatory responses in the body.
6. Boosts Immunity
The benefits of eating sweet potatoes include a better immunity system. Your body is exposed to many potential disease-causing pathogens, especially in your gut, and reduces your power to resist other diseases. By improving gut health and maintaining a healthy digestive system, sweet potato automatically boosts the immune response in your body.
7. Sweet Potato for Weight Loss
Pectin, the soluble fiber present in sweet potatoes, increases satiety and reduces food intake. The presence of a good amount of fiber in sweet potatoes can keep you full for longer, and in that way, it can help you have a check on your weight. The sweet potato calorie content is also not very high, and you can easily incorporate it into your diet.
8. Can Make Skin and Hair Healthy
Sweet potato benefits for skin include protection against photoaging and hyperpigmentation. As a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E, this vegetable can neutralize oxidative stress on your skin caused by harmful UV rays. These vitamins are essential in the synthesis of collagen and can help in managing various skin diseases. On the other hand, Vitamin E can reduce hair fall and alopecia.
9. Can Reduce the Risk of Cancer
The purple sweet potatoes contain a group of antioxidants known as Anthocyanins which have been found to slow the growth of specific cancer cells. Researchers say that antioxidants may help reduce the risk of various types of cancer by reducing the human body’s oxidation process. Purple sweet potatoes, the peel, are an excellent source of antioxidants.
10. Enhances Memory Power
According to various researchers, the presence of anthocyanin in sweet potatoes can enhance the power of your memory. The anti-inflammatory properties can prevent memory-related problems like Alzheimer’s disease to some extent.
How to Include Sweet Potatoes in Your Diet?
Now that we know the benefits of eating sweet potatoes, let’s see how we can include this magical vegetable into our diet. When you cook sweet potatoes, it slightly reduces the beta-carotene content, but they still contain at least 70% of this nutrient. There are various ways to get the nutritional values of sweet potatoes in your regular diet.
- Roasting sweet potatoes is a perfect option as it brings out their naturally sweet and creamy taste. Roasted sweet potatoes can be added to a salad with a balsamic vinegar drizzle on the top.
- A quick way to prepare a sweet potato is to prick the vegetable with a fork, wrap it in a paper towel, and then microwave it on high heat until it’s soft.
- You can have baked sweet potatoes with a mixture of a little ground cinnamon and maple syrup diluted in a little water.
- You can use sweet potatoes to make pancakes, hash browns, or vacuum fried wedges.
- You can make a sweet potato puree and use it as the base for your hearty veggie soup.
- For some yummy desserts, you can make no-bake cookies or some brownies, pudding, and of course, the favorite among all the classic sweet potato pies.
Sweet Potato Health Risks
As already discussed, sweet potatoes are potassium-rich vegetables. So, it may not be suitable for people who take beta-blockers as it can increase your potassium intake.
At the same time, people suffering from kidney problems should also keep an eye on how much potassium they consume. When a person with impaired kidney function consumes a good amount of sweet potatoes, it can cause severe health issues with all the potassium their kidneys cannot process.
Being a versatile vegetable, sweet potato is a favorite among people who follow a vegetarian diet. These health benefits of sweet potatoes can help you combat many health issues and contribute to a healthier lifestyle.